Belgrade Theatre – until 25 January 2020
Guest reviewer: William Stafford, Bum on a Seat
An uplifting, impressive show that delivers its social commentary with humour and a lot of heart.
Alex Wheatle’s popular YA novel Crongton Knights is brought to vibrant life in this irresistible adaptation by Emteaz Hussain. The story charts the events of a single night as a group of friends set off on a quest into enemy territory to right a serious wrong. Basically, Venetia (‘V’) needs to reclaim her smartphone from her ex-boyfriend because its photo album contains some extremely intimate pictures of her.
The ex lives in ‘Notre Dame’ where other gangs, like the nasty Hunchbackers hold sway. As if that were not enough, the friends have to avoid the villainous Festus – luckily he is easily distinguished by the bandage around his head. And so, the ‘Magnificent Six’ embark on their mission and on the 159 bus.
The play reminds me of several things: Homer’s Odyssey, The Warriors, Stand By Me, Ostrich Boys – even The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as the friends encounter peril after peril at each stage of their journey. The witty use of urban slang brings to mind A Clockwork Orange. One of the key joys of this piece is its language; utterly current and streetwise – I’m sure the younger members of the audience got it more than I did.
What sets this show apart is that it’s a beatbox musical – two words almost guaranteed to put me off, but no, I find this to be sophisticated, stylish stuff as the cast, using only their vocal abilities, create all the music live, before our very ears. There are harmonies, percussive beats, melodic accompaniments… The original songs by composer Conrad Murray are tuneful; the entire score is a varied palette, and it is all performed flawlessly by this extremely talented ensemble.Read the full review on Bum on a Seat.